Rabbits are social creatures that enjoy
interacting with others. Of course, there are always exceptions, and
your rabbit may prefer to keep you all to herself. To find out which
type of rabbit you have, you can set up a “bunny date” with
another rabbit to find a suitable prospect for your rabbit's new
partner. Behavior you don't want to see includes fighting, charging,
grunting and other acts of aggression. Some good signs that the date
is going well are grooming, laying with each other, or successful
mounting. If any of these occur, you may have found your rabbit's
Incorporating a partner for your rabbit
into your home can be challenging. Rabbits can be aggressive, and
fighting is not uncommon in the beginning. It is rare that it will
be love at first sight. For
first-time owners, it may be hard to take on faith that it can work
out, but patience and persistence are key in bonding your rabbits and
will almost always pay off.
For a smoother transition, employ the
- Rabbits who are spayed/neutered are
typically less aggressive and will usually make better candidates for
bonding. It's easiest to bond a male and female rabbit, and ensuring
that they are fixed is obviously necessary. The next easiest pair to
bond is female-female. Bonding two males isn't impossible, but from
anecdotal experience, it can be the hardest pairing, since each will
attempt to dominate the other.
- The rabbits should
not be placed together initially. They need time to be
introduced to each other slowly, which is best done with supervision.
- Place the rabbits' cages next to each
other (with a bit of space between to avoid fighting) so they get
used to being near each other without being forced to share a space.
If you see them laying next to each other or attempting to groom each
other through the wires, they are ready to spend some time together.
- To get them used to the others' scent,
switch their litter boxes, towels, food dishes, and toys
- For their first face-to-face meeting,
put them in a neutral location – a place where neither
rabbit feels that it's his or her territory and a place where neither
bunny can be cornered. Make it a small space, so the rabbits will
have to be close together. Places like the kitchen floor, bathroom,
hallway, or empty bathtub might work because the slick surface can
help prevent them from chasing each other.
- Bonding sessions should
happen frequently, for up to 15 minute intervals and increasing as
the rabbits become more familiar with each other.
- Expect the rabbits to fight, especially
in order to show one's dominance over the other. Fights can be
frightening, and the rabbits can cause each other serious damage.
While fighting is normal, don't let it continue for very long, and
stop it immediately if one rabbit has been injured. I used a spray
bottle to break up fights between my two female rabbits, aiming for
their sides or butts to avoid getting water up their noses.
Sometimes making a loud clapping or thumping noise can momentarily
distract them. It's important that they don't hurt each other, but
it's also important that you don't get hurt either, so make sure you
protect yourself when breaking up a fight (wear long sleeves, maybe
- Mounting is not considered fighting.
It's actually what you want to see happen. Fights can break out
when one refuses to let the other mount him/her. Note that it can be
females or males attempting to mount the other to show dominance.
might temporarily forsake their good litter box habits in the
excitement. They’ll settle back to using the boxes
successfully, but this can be a discouraging turn of events if you
aren’t expecting it.
Once you are convinced
they are comfortable with each other, you can try to move them to a
cohabitation situation, though expect some territorial feelings to
arise once again. Placing food or water dishes side-by-side or
feeding them greens together can ease this.
I didn't see much
improvement in behavior with my two house rabbits until one of my female rabbits was finally
successful in mounting the other female. This took several weeks,
and in the meantime, I was very concerned that they would never get
along. However, patience paid off, and they tolerate each other
quite well now. That's not to say that there aren't occasionally
flareups; I just make sure to break the fights up quickly, and life
goes on as usual.
- Drive around in a car with the rabbits
in a box sitting in the seat next to you (preferably held by a
passenger). The new situation, close quarters, and the unsettling
feeling of being moved about may “trick” the rabbits into relying
on each other for comfort in an unnerving setting.
- Put a small bit of banana on each of
the rabbits' foreheads to make their fur a bit sticky and wet. The
bunnies may try to lick the banana of each others' foreheads, and
this mimicking of grooming can lead to actual grooming, a good sign
for the bonding.
- Place them in an unfamiliar, small
location where they are forced to be near each other, like an empty
bathtub. Pet each of their foreheads at the same time to trick them
into thinking the other one is providing comfort to them in an
- Lastly, if you are interested in
adopting a rabbit, consider adopting a bonded pair – all the hard
work is already (mostly) over!
NOTE: Many of these tips also
apply to introducing your rabbit to another household pet.
Introductions should always be slow and supervised, and the
importance of neutral locations can't be emphasized enough.
Supervision is key, as is ensuring that your dog or cat is
well-behaved and not aggressive/territorial.